Although the weather this month hasn’t always been seasonal, May is Garden for Wildlife Month. As summer finally approaches at the end of the month, however, it’ll soon be the perfect time to take a stroll along Lake Michigan—and the lush gardens that wrap around Shedd’s exterior. You won’t be the only visitor: If you look closely, you’ll notice that the carefully planted gardens surrounding Shedd serve as a welcome sign to birds and insects of all kinds.
19 posts categorized "Animals: Birds"
May 31, 2013
May 11, 2013
To celebrate International Migratory Bird Day—today!—we’re going to look at one of the most conspicuous migratory species that you’ll see on Shedd’s grounds. From its high-pitched trill to a flash of red on black to the surprising thunk on the back of your head, the red-winged blackbird is hard to ignore.
March 26, 2013
October 08, 2012
September 10, 2012
If you’ve called recently about booking an encounter with one of our Magellanic penguins, you know that the birds are molting. We suspend the penguin encounters during this two- to three-week period while the birds refeather.
For penguins, molting is an annual process during which they completely replace their plumage. (Some bird species have a second either partial or complete molt during the year.)
“The Magellanics look like shorn sheep,” says Lana Vanagasem, Shedd's supervisor of sea otters and penguins, shown above leading a penguin encounter. The birds probably feel like it, too. She speculates that the sensation of the new feathers emerging from the follicles in the skin is itchy. “They definitely can be irritable during molt,” she says.
March 24, 2011
I’ve always had a fascination with penguins, ever since I was a child. However, never in my wildest dreams did I actually think I’d meet a penguin. Then, one day, I sat on a small bench surrounded by strangers (who would quickly become friends based on this amazing shared experience) and there in front of me stood 407. At just under 2 years old, 407 is a juvenile Magellanic penguin and one of the many penguins that are a part of the encounter program at Shedd. This extraordinary experience, similarly to Shedd’s Beluga Encounter and Trainer for a Day programs, allow guests to get a close-up, behind-the-scenes experience - not just for entertainment, but an amazing opportunity to learn more about these beautiful animals.
May 04, 2010
April 15, 2010
It’s April 15, and you know what that means… it’s time to put nesting rocks in the penguin habitat! Thanks to a nutritious diet, a realistic landscape and exhibit lights that are timed to replicate seasonal changes in day length, the rockhopper penguins are going into mating mode. Each year around April 15, we begin scattering smooth river rocks, small enough to fit in a cupped hand or a penguin’s mouth, throughout the rocky exhibit. Pretty soon the males are picking them up and waddling them over to prime nesting real estate. One male has actually staked out two nest sites. Another, who has been stealing rocks from his neighbors, has constructed a nest in the center of the habitat. We’ve also put out twigs to encourage the two mated pairs of Magellanic penguins. This species nests under shrubs or in shallow sand burrows. The trainers say, however, that these birds are still pretty new to the habitat and may not feel settled in enough to breed this year. Meanwhile, the rockhoppers have decided that the twigs add a nice touch—or maybe feel—to their nests. While the birds are totally serious about this—and even more territorial than usual—it’s a lot of fun to watch. Visit soon!
March 19, 2010
In early March, my boss, Michelle Jost, arrived at work wearing a huge smile. She heard a red-winged blackbird trilling nearby; that call meant spring! But to other Shedd staffers, that call meant "duck!" The red-wings that reside in Shedd’s gardens are notoriously protective of their nests. If you’ve ever had a blackbird dive-bomb your head, you know why we keep a wary eye toward the sky at this time of year.
To birders like me, however, the blackbird call signifies an exciting time of year: The great spring bird migration has begun!
November 10, 2009